No, that’s not a mistake. We’ve been given a peek into two new movies this week, and I’m giving one of them a major side eye.
First we got a peek at Will Smith as the Genie, and honestly, I don’t hate it. It’s getting a fair bit of criticism, but I do really think this can be a good move. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, director Guy Ritchie explained how much of a challenge he faced when deciding who would play the Genie, because of Robin Williams’ iconic performance in the 1992 animated Disney film. He considered how Williams made the Genie so memorable by just injecting his own flair.
“The great thing about the role of the Genie is that it’s essentially a hyperbole for who that individual actor is, so it’s a wonderful platform and tapestry for an actor to fill his boots on,” Said Ritchie.
So when thinking of an actor who could overplay a version of himself, Will Smith seemed a natural choice. Smith himself said “I started to feel confident that I could deliver something that was an homage to Robin Williams but was musically different. Just the flavor of the character would be different enough and unique enough that it would be in a different lane, versus trying to compete.”
I like this. I like Will Smith (even when he’s in some real clunkers like Bright). I like that it’s a well thought out choice and if done well, Smith can really deliver something iconic in his own way. If he can stick with hyperbole and avoid caricature, I think it can really work.
Honestly, as long as it’s not Wild Wild West, I’ll probably be pleased.
Now in comes Men in Black International. This I am significantly less optimistic about. Watch the trailer here if you haven’t seen it already.
It’s definitely got some positive elements – Emma Thompson for one, looks incredible. Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson have good chemistry, as we saw in Thor: Ragnarok. Liam Neeson is always a treat. Some of the aliens are returning from the original series, and the new aliens look absolutely charming.
My biggest concern is that for a movie spin off of a franchise made successful by Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith, those two are conspicuously absent from the roster. I’m not saying it can’t work, I’m just saying I have my doubts.
Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of faith in Chris Hemsworth’s ability to improve on a reboot either, as made painfully obvious in the 2016 re-imagining of the Ghostbusters franchise.
I’m also wary of the CGI elements, because I’m seeing roughly 200% more flying vehicles than I’m comfortable with. Of course a movie about aliens will require some CGI, but the original film franchise leaned heavily on practical effects as well, which I’m just not seeing in this trailer. Overly fake looking movies typically have a short trip into the reject pile and for good reason.
It’s obvious that this is hoped to be the first of several new Men in Black Movies, so let’s hope that this spin off franchise stacks up to the original.
All in all, I’m feeling a lot more optimistic about movies with Will Smith in them than those without. This may not only be a direct testament to Smith himself, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.
Loki | Fun And Entertaining As It Feels Wholly Original
This will be an entirely spoiler-free review of episodes 1 and 2 of Loki.
The last time we saw the God of mischief was in 2019. Well, it was actually 2012- but in 2019. If you cast your mind back to Avengers: Endgame, we last saw Loki when the Avengers travelled back in time to 2012. The Hulk bursts out of the stairwell causing the Tesseract to slide across the floor, landing right at Loki’s feet who picks it up and escapes in a portal to who knows where. Well, now we get to find out where exactly that version of Loki from 2012 went and what happened to him next.
I won’t divulge any plot details from either of the first two episodes that aren’t featured in the trailer so that when you watch them you can go in completely fresh, but the first two episodes of Loki set the show up in a really fun and dynamic way and it really feels like the start of a good TV show and not just a 6-hour long film.
The show kicks off right where we last saw Loki and he ends up imprisoned by the TVA- the Time Variance Authority. The TVA help make sure the timeline stays intact and Agent Mobius (played by Owen Wilson) and Loki must work together to stop a threat to the timeline.
Even from just the first two episodes, Loki already has such an energetic and mischievous feel to it. It feels very much akin to a crime thriller, but it still has that fun, Marvel tone to it too. Much like WandaVision it also feels quite different to some of the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But it is still rooted in that Marvel style and feel so fans of the MCU will absolutely still enjoy it, but Loki is still bringing something new to the table and it feels fresh and original.
Loki is fun and entertaining as it feels wholly original but it’s also very emotional too. As with any new Marvel project, there will of course be call-backs to moments in previous films and in the character’s past. Whilst perhaps there’s a bit more Thor: The Dark World than you might want the character Loki is such a fascinating and compelling one and in the first two episodes alone we get to see the emotional and sensitive side of him much more.
Tom Hiddleston, as always, is absolutely great as the God of mischief and he looks like he’s having such a fun time playing Loki. Also joining him is Owen Wilson who’s also really good and makes a welcome addition to the MCU. The two of them have a really strong chemistry together and make a good on-screen pairing, and when you add in the nice, fresh production design, overall Marvel have got yet another winner on their hands.
Much like the two other Marvel shows this year, the first couple of episodes are a really intriguing set-up with lots of promise for what’s to follow. It will be interesting to see where Loki goes as a character over the rest of the series; WandaVision saw Wanda’s evolution into the Scarlet Witch and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier saw Sam Wilson take up the mantle of Captain America so as to where Loki ends up at the end of episode 6 we’ll just have to wait and see. But the first two episodes are hugely entertaining, with the second being my favourite of the two. It’s different, it’s mischievous and if the first two are anything to go by, it looks as if there are lots of surprises and a lot of excitement coming our way over the next few weeks.
Loki starts streaming on Disney+ June 9.
Marvel Studios’ Eternals | Official Teaser
The Eternals, a race of immortal beings with superhuman powers who have secretly lived on Earth for thousands of years, reunite to battle the evil Deviants.
Action, adventure, drama
November 5, 2021
Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kit Harington, Kumail Nanjiani, Brian Tyree Henry
How Much Does The Netflix-Sony Deal Affect The “Streaming Wars?”
It feels like every few days now that, yet another streaming service is announced; HBO Max, Disney Plus, Paramount Plus, Peacock, the list goes on. So, it was very refreshing to see the news broke recently that streaming giant Netflix had made a deal with film studio, Sony to distribute all Sony films exclusively on Netflix after their initial theatrical run as of 2022. This is undeniably a huge deal, but how much does it affect the streaming wars?
Well first, this is a huge win for customers and fans of films and TV shows because we get more content on Netflix and we don’t have to pay for yet another streaming service. That is fairly simple and obvious, but how and why is this a win for Netflix? Well, often people’s biggest concern or complaint about Netflix is its lack of interesting intellectual property (IP), and that eventually, all film studios would leave Netflix to make their own streaming service and it would have to rely exclusively on original content. That started to become a reality; at one point, Netflix bought the streaming rights to many Disney films, Warner Bros films, Paramount films, etc. and when these studios saw the success of Netflix, they took their IPs back and made their own streaming services. And when competing with streaming services like HBO Max, which has the rights to DC Comics, Harry Potter, Mad Max, or streaming services like Disney Plus which has the rights to Star Wars, Marvel, National Geographic, Netflix’s ‘Stranger Things’ couldn’t really compete with that. It really seemed like only a matter of time before Sony announced their new streaming service, but they didn’t. They cut a deal with Netflix and integrated into a pre-existing streaming service. This means that Netflix will have exclusive streaming rights to Spider-Man, Ghostbusters, Jumanji, and after he left Miramax after the Weinstein scandal, Quentin Tarantino’s future films will be Sony properties too. This won’t just be an initial boost of subscribers, but the consistent influx of brand-new Sony films, like the much-anticipated sequel to the Oscar winning animated film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, or Venom 2: Let There Be Carnage, going to Netflix will retain subscribers too. Obviously then, this is a huge win for Netflix but why is it so good for Sony?
Well in my opinion, Sony integrating into an established streaming service is the best move they could’ve made. It’ll save them money on creating a streaming service, advertising their own streaming service, making original content for that streaming service. Instead, they can slip into Netflix’s catalogue easily and cheaply. Also, Netflix isn’t just another streaming service. Netflix is the original streaming service. If it weren’t for Netflix, Disney Plus, HBO Max wouldn’t exist. Netflix is the biggest streaming service in the world, clocking in at a whopping 203 million subscribers, over double Disney Plus’ total and considering that Disney is one of the biggest media conglomerates in the world it having half of Netflix’s subscribers goes to show how successful and powerful Netflix is. So, Sony going to them is a huge benefit for Sony; Netflix is already available world-wide, compared to Warner Bros’ HBO Max which is only available in the US for now, Netflix has an established brand, most people are already subscribed to Netflix so, as I said, Sony really can slip in quietly without doing the leg work of creating a new streaming service.
How does this impact the wider streaming wars? Well, Sony have just given Netflix a massive boost and this is a huge deal. As I said earlier, Netflix’s main concern was a lack of IP, well now they have a major film studio in their pocket that can compete with the likes of Warner Bros or Paramount, as well as brand new films every month or even more often from Sony. Netflix is basically now operating as if two major studios were making original content for it, as opposed to just one. Regardless of this Sony deal, though, Netflix has something you can’t buy or manufacture or cut a deal for, which will always give it the lead in the streaming wars: its reputation. Netflix is so influential that its name has become a verb; Netflix and Chill, and that’s when you know you’ve made it (look at Google compared to Bing, Bing might be better in every way, but no-one is ever saying “hold on, let me Bing it”). Netflix hasn’t quite hit eponym status (when a brand name virtually replaces the name of the actual item, like Jacuzzi or Band-Aid), but it’s slowly getting closer and closer. It’s definitely synonymous with streaming; in 2017 there was a survey in the US in which people were asked to name their favourite Netflix shows, many people named shows that aren’t from Netflix, they were just using Netflix as a synonym for streaming. But most importantly, Netflix is the incumbent king of streaming. And it’s very difficult, even for a legendary company like Disney, to defeat the incumbent. Netflix has become a staple must-have thing in people’s homes, it replaced traditional TV for many people; people won’t unsubscribe from Netflix just because Disney have a new streaming service; they’ll just pay for both. Netflix has also had a huge head start, they’ve been doing this since 2007 they have had over a decade longer than other studios to perfect every detail about the content, the user-interface, the algorithm, which all takes years to do.
My point is that even if Disney Plus, which is Netflix’s biggest competition, surpass Netflix in subscribers, in quality, they will never, can never, surpass Netflix’s reputation and impact simply due to the fact that Netflix did it first. Netflix has a monopoly, not on streaming itself, but on the way in which we perceive streaming. Everything from the fact that, as I said, Netflix is synonymous with streaming and has become a verb, to the way Netflix’s original shows and films have a short, quippy Netflix logo accompanied by the now famous ‘baduum’ which now every streaming service has some variation of. Which seems obvious, but it isn’t. No TV network or film-studio had a short intro like that for content before Netflix did. They, of course, have long logos (even Netflix has one of those that only plays in cinemas), but not a quick, one-note, two-second logo. Because of things like this, Netflix will always have a lead in the streaming wars, they pioneered streaming. Netflix also have made such an impact on the world of film and TV that they became the first streaming service to win a Golden Globe, an Emmy, and even an Oscar. They’ve worked with acclaimed actors; they even made a Scorsese film in 2019. They have firmly cemented themselves in this industry and they aren’t going anywhere. So, to actually get back to my point, the way this Sony deal with Netflix affects the streaming wars is by adding to Netflix’s longevity, certifying that it won’t be threatened by major studios starting their own services. Netflix have been consistently signing deals with popular directors, actors, writers. They’ve worked with Martin Scorsese, Guillermo Del Toro, the Coen Brothers, Alfonso Cuarón, but this is the first deal they’ve signed, not just with a person who agrees to do three films, but an entire studio for exclusive rights to everything they make.
The streaming wars, though, aren’t what most people envision when you say ‘war’. There won’t be a winner of this war. It will go on forever, companies like Apple or Amazon aren’t fighting to become the next Netflix, they just see how lucrative the industry is and want a slither of the pie. There will be services at the top and services at the bottom but to say that there will be a single winner is just wrong. I remember Disney Plus was prophesized to be the death of Netflix, but it barely left a dent, and a year after Disney Plus’ launch, Netflix was operating as if nothing happened, and Disney Plus is operating and growing too. Disney hasn’t taken any of Netflix’s pie, they’ve just baked their own. In the world of filmmaking and distribution, Disney may be the top of the food chain, but streaming is Netflix’s house and Netflix has had its foot firmly in the door far too long to be thrown out regardless, but this new deal with Sony extends its lead and industry dominance even further.
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Marvel Studios’ Eternals | Official Teaser
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